Yglesias on Taxes

In an admirably frank piece in the American Prospect, Matt says the problem with Obama's budget is that the government doesn't have enough money to pay for it and so Democrats will need to raise taxes on the middle class if they want all this spending. This is such an important message because many Democrats are now going through a phase of magical-thinking freelunchism. Every huge new program will save money! Well, it won't. So Matt's right. It's better to face up sooner rather than later to the fact that taxes need to go up a lot to pay for all this stuff. Or, we could spend a lot less. I know Matt's down with slashing defense budgets, but I guess he just wants to spend that money elsewhere.  For my part, I think it's easiest to get people to face up to tax increases if they don't have the sense that they're paying more just so the special interests of the winning coalition can get more. Large, comprehensive spending cuts together with a modest increase of tax rates on the middle class seems to me the most plausible way of regaining something like fiscal balance. After the recession.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center